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Take 2: Should the new Bears offense or defense be the bigger focus?

Quarterback Jay Cutler talks with tight end Martellus Bennett during practice at Chicago Bears training camp in Bourbonnais. (Lathan Goumas – lgoumas@shawmedia.com)

Is it the Bears offense we should be focused on? Or the defense? Hub Arkush and Tom Musick have differing points of view.

Arkush: Alright Mr. Musick – geez, I feel like I'm working with Paul McCartney – it's time to take a stand. With all that is new for the Chicago Bears this season, I think we all need to figure out where to look first. Marc Trestman arrives with a promise of the Bears franchise finally emerging from the stone age of the T-formation and scoring points the way the big boys do in the NFL today. And, of course, all eyes are on Jay Cutler for a myriad of different reasons. But the best talent on this club is still on the defensive side of the ball. Defense has been the hallmark of the Bears since gas was 10 cents a gallon, and with all the changes on that side of the ball we have to wonder, can they stay strong enough to compete? Bottom line, which side of the ball do we need to focus on more?

Musick: I get mistaken for Paul McCartney quite a bit. To be honest, I'm a little miffed that Queen Elizabeth hasn't knighted me yet. Anyway, as for the Bears, give me defense. Give me defense or give me death. Didn't Patrick Henry say that? Although offense is a bigger deal than ever, the Bears will need to step up and contain Aaron Rodgers, Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson and many other star playmakers on their schedule if they want to win games.

Arkush: To be clear, you look a little more like Paul Giamatti than McCartney, but who'd call the old Commish's son Mr. Musick? As far as the Bears "D," it won't matter what they do if Cutler and company can't move the chains and find the end zone. Beyond that, one could argue the whole Phil Emery regime is on the hook if his surprising hire at head coach doesn't turn out to be the offensive savant he's been billed as. I'd say it's all eyes on the offense.

Musick: Paul Giamatti, I like that. Who could forget his iconic performances in "Thunderpants" and "Big Momma's House"? And I guess "Sideways" was all right, too. I get what you're saying about the Bears' offense, but this team will go sideways (or worse) if the defense slips from its top-10 form. I want to see Henry Melton duplicate his 2012 performance as the Bears' best three-technique since a young Tommie Harris. I want to see Julius Peppers and Corey Wootton force quick passes that allow the secondary to capitalize. I want to see the defense wear the, um, thunderpants.

Arkush: I have no comeback for Thunderpants. Set point to Musick, but this match isn't over. If the Bears offensive lineman don't start blocking like the big mommas they're being paid to be, and at least get opposing pass rushers and tacklers going sideways, Cutler, Forte, Bush and company are all going to be Mr. Dirty-Pants. Keep it out of the gutter guys, I'm talking grass stains! Seriously folks, even if the defense over-achieves, it's not going to score nine TD's again this year, and you can only win so many games 10-7. Top that, Mr. Smarty Pants.

Musick: Grass stains! Oh, man, my mind went straight to the gutter. I couldn't help it. You make good points about the Bears' need for big-momma blockers. It would be foolish for me to argue otherwise. But scanning the NFC North, the Green Bay Packers averaged 27.1 points a game in 2012. The Minnesota Vikings averaged 23.7 points a game. The Detroit Lions averaged 23.3 points a game. The Bears defense needs to keep those totals in the high teens or low 20s, because I don't think Jay Cutler & Co. want to get involved in weekly shootouts.

Arkush: At this point you probably have the lead on clever references, but I'm sure I've got you whipped on the facts. So here's my closing statement, and I'll give you the last shot at a miracle comeback. Everyone loves a moment of triumph. Unfortunately, everyone plus one seems to love a train wreck. Jay Cutler is going to be one or the other by the end of this season. While the defense has it's points of interest, for drama, spectacle and intrigue, what could be more interesting and important than finding out finally whether Cutler is going to be the next John Elway or the next Jeff George?

Musick: I have no miracle comeback. Now, I know what Jeff George feels like.

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